Zen-sounding lyrics and flashcard-ready artwork

Mae, Magic City Hippies, Future Generations, Justin Timberlake, White Denim

White Denim at the Belly Up on April 28
  • White Denim at the Belly Up on April 28

Mae

Mae

Mae

  • Saturday, January 19, 2019, 6:30 p.m.
  • Irenic, 3090 Polk Avenue, San Diego
  • $22 - $89

Formed in Norfolk, Virginia in the early 2000s, underground-experimental rock trio Mae named their just-released album, somewhat haughtily, Multisensory Aesthetic Experience. That might lead one to expect a noisy and probably pretentious band, perhaps playing industrial steeped math rock with the furrowed brows and serious expressions of scientists. In actuality, they could more accurately be compared with fun and freeform virtual groups like Gorillaz and, believe it or not, Metalocalypse. If the Banana Splits had Kraftwerk’s keyboards, that’d be Mae. Singularity, their first new full-length since their major label breakthrough in 2007, is chock full of Zen-sounding lyrics and flashcard-ready artwork sure to inspire an all-new round of devotional tattoos from their many ink-heavy fans, some of them known to stage independent Mae listening parties at tattoo shops. There’s a somewhat newfound funky edge and dance groove to the 11 new tracks that should serve the band well when it comes to getting the usually sedate Irenic crowd on their feet on January 19, where they’ve promised a “fully immersive virtual reality experience” in keeping with the one-foot-in-the-future sounds and themes of Singularity.

Magic City Hippies

Magic City Hippies

Magic City Hippies

  • Saturday, February 2, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Soda Bar, 3615 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $15 - $20

Some bands, you can pretty much tell what to expect just from the name. Such is the case with Miami’s Magic City Hippies. If you like spinning and singing along to jam bands like Phish, or boogieing to the pure funk of groups like G Love & Special Sauce, then by all means bring those Birkenstocks and dungarees to the Soda Bar on February 2, where the trio will bring the same groovy vibes and endless solos they’ve served up on festival stages from Bonnaroo to Electric Forest and Sunfest. It’s not strictly for Deadheads, however, as there’s a level of musical proficiency and almost jazz-worthy experimentation that can sometimes enliven even the most meandering solos. Think genuinely jazz-inspired LA groups like Spirit or Love, who may fit in the “jam band” category, but mainly only by virtue of their opening acts and accidental audience overlaps. If you like that sort of thing, this is that sort of thing.

Future Generations

Future Generations

The Magic City Hippies bill includes Brooklyn-based pop gypsies Future Generations, who just dropped their sophomore full-length, Landscape, produced by Justin Gerrish (who’s done wonders bringing droney bands like Vampire Weekend into the mainstream). It’s a fine bit of throwback dream pop recalling the paisley 80s dayz of bands like Big Star and even a bit of Paul McCartney, at least in the meticulous attention to layered songcraft and irresistible hooks that would be garish in their audacity if not so damned soft on the ears. By way of example, one track is built from a sampling of random drum circle recordings, drenched in vintage synthesizer whooshes courtesy of a steampunkish old piece of keyboard tech dubbed the Fun Machine. A video for Landscape’s title track is streaming online.

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake

Why is Justin Timberlake dressed like an Appalachian Trail hiker in the poster for his upcoming Man of the Woods tour? Well, we’re supposed to believe he’s a man who hangs out in the woods, I guess. Which seems unlikely for a guy who just turned up on a Pollstar list of top ten grossing touring performers of the past year, having performed for over a million and a half people. He’s hoping around 16,000 more will turn out for his February 21 appearance at the former Sports Arena, aka Valley View Casino Center, where advance press promises a “360-degree multistage layout featuring an extensive winding walkway simulating a path in the woods, which allows Timberlake and his dancers to get closer to fans on all sides of the arenas.” Yeah, that’s right, dancers in the woods. That, and “cutting edge lasers and 3D projections to bring to life the setlist filled with fresh takes on his slew of hit songs.” Yep, they said “slew.” And a walk in the woods. Could we be looking at an upcoming all-country album?

White Denim

White Denim

White Denim

  • Sunday, April 28, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach
  • 21+ / $18 - $20

When I saw that White Denim has a new 45-minute live set featured on the PBS series Echo Sessions, my plan was to just skip over it just enough to get a feel for their new album, Performance, recently released via City Slang Records. I ended up playing the entire performance, captivated by the Austin band’s ability to convey so many pop culture references amidst such an instrumentally dense backdrop of rock and roll brouhaha. They’re spending around two months on the road promoting the new album, which is already racking up top shelf reviews at Pitchfork, Relix, and Mojo. It also earned them another slot on Conan O’Brien’s show, where they practically have cots backstage with the band’s names on them, they’re spending so much time in that studio lately. The April 28 date at the Belly Up in Solana Beach is pretty much the final show of the current tour, though they do have one summer festival booked at Red Rocks in Colorado. The bill include Oakland-based Once and Future Band, a 70s prog throwback evoking the best of Krautrock and space travelling acid rockers like Nektar, Tangerine Dream, Amon Duul II, and Focus.

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